Solidarity and Sustainability
A Newsletter on the Socio-Ecological Impacts of Religious Patriarchy

Volume 1 - Number 8 - December 2005
Luis T. Gutierrez

The primary goal of this research is to facilitate progress in the path from patriarchy to solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable human development. This journey attempts to understand how to mitigate all manner of patriarchal and misogynic barriers to human development and, in particular, how to overcome the enormous obstacles caused by religious patriarchy. There is no presumption of new discoveries. Rather, it is a matter of integrating existing knowledge (experience, wisdom, empirical evidence) to show that true religion should never be an obstacle to human development. The United Nations "Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs) are used as point of reference.

Issue Theme

This issue considers the inner feedback loops between solidarity and sustainability, and how these loops are exercised via application of the subsidiarity principle. Subsidiarity is all about "checks and balances" within and between levels of governance, and these "checks and balances", not unlike feedback loops, keep all the levels acting together for the common good.

The criticality of gender equity for using well the subsidiarity principle is then shown, based on examples from human history and current global issues. The critical importance of practicing gender equity is substantiated by some interesting "gender equity index" data for a significant number of nations. There is strong correlation between gender equity and adherence to the subsidiarity principle, and there is strong correlation between gender equity and both human wellbeing (including inner peace and integration) and biosphere wellbeing, i.e., the integrity of the human habitat.

It is recognized that overcoming the patriarchal mindset of consumerism and domination, and embracing the tripod of solidarity, subsidiarity, sustainability, is a difficult transition process for both individuals and communities. For believers and non-believers alike, the practice of daily meditation (under competent guidance) is recommended as one of the best ways to make progress on the path toward solidarity and sustainability.

Table of Contents











In preceding newsletters, we have considered only the main clockwise feedback loop in the process model. There is another main feedback loop that flows counterclockwise. Figure 1 now shows both the clockwise (progress) reinforcing loop and the counterclockwise (regression) reinforcing loop. Generally speaking, both loops are always active. If the progress loop is stronger, progress is made toward solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable development. If the regression loop is stronger, negative progress is made, i.e., the patriarchal mindset consolidates and becomes the main driver of individual and institutional behavior. If both loops have the same strength, progress stagnates. History shows that dominance shifts from one loop to another at irregular points in time, and we consequently experience some periods of progress that are followed by periods of regression [01]. But, in the long term, progress prevails [02].








Human Person



Human Habitat





Figure 1 - Process Model for Dynamics of Solidarity and Sustainability

Needless to say, the two main loops shown in Figure 1 are highly conceptual, and just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the inner complexity of the global human-biosphere system. There are many internal feedback loops, both positive and negative (reinforcing and balancing). For instance, there are complex information feedback loops between patriarchal institutions and the social processes that lead to the emergence of human solidarity. This is especially true regarding the process pursuant to the emancipation of women, which has been underway for two centuries and is still resisted by patriarchal cultures. In many countries, including the United States, the right of women to vote was not recognized until the 20th century!

The patriarchy, solidarity, sustainability, and sustainable development states are also tightly coupled by a complex web of human to human, human to biosphere, and biosphere to biosphere interactions. The stability of each one of the states also depends on webs of inner feedback loops within the fuzzy boundaries of each state. While attempting to explicitly identify all these internal feedback loops would lead to a model resembling a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, it is critical to develop a better understanding of how all the hidden connections work together in the global web of life [03]. This effort has been aptly called the great work of our times, indispensable to pave our way into the future [04]. For solidarity and sustainability to flourish, it is not so much a matter of understanding these relationships at the microscopic level as it is a matter of understanding the nature of these relationships, and how they are impacted by human activity, so that humanity can take good care of the human habitat. Two principles are instrumental for achieving this kind of understanding: the subsidiarity principle and the precautionary principle.


In systems theory, it is well-known that some system properties emerge (and others disappear) in the analysis of successively higher levels of aggregation. In other words, different feedback loops are dominant in determining system behavior at different levels. For instance, the information feedback loops required for local/city governance, state/provincial governance, national governance, regional governance, and global governance are significantly different in both loop geometry and information flow content. Actually, this fact was recognized long before the advent of cybernetics and the system sciences.

The concept of subsidiarity was introduced by Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, S.J. (1793–1862) to complement the concept of sociality, which later became better known as solidarity. Basically, subsidiarity means that a given system level (e.g., a given level of political authority) should be responsible only for those functions that cannot be performed effectively by lower system levels (i.e., lower political authorities). Conversely, it means that a given system level should not be responsible for functions that can be performed effectively only by higher system levels [05].

Concrete examples readily come to mind: a national government cannot keep the peace in each and every town/city or county; a county sheriff cannot police an entire nation. This is especially true under crisis conditions. Let's consider the basic definitions of solidarity, subsidiarity, and sustainability , side by side (Table 1):

Solidarity means "a union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group; fellowship of responsibilities and interests." Subsidiarity means "that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level." Sustainability means "meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

Table 1 - Basic definitions of Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Sustainability

Solidarity without sustainability is impossible in the long term, since a human habitat is required for solidarity to become reality. Sustainability without solidarity is also impossible in the long term, since it is precisely the lack of solidarity that is destroying the human habitat. It is an example of the so-called "catch 22" issue; an issue with many dimensions, many effects and counter-effects, and many counter-intuitive trends driven by an indeterminate number of complex feedback webs. This is where the subsidiarity principle comes to the rescue. Taparelli came up with the notion of subsidiarity mostly by intuition; now we have objective evidence that it really cuts through the incredible global, complexity of multi-level dynamic systems to enable both solidarity and sustainability to flourish [05].

Subsidiarity is all about feedback loops, i.e., "checks and balances." The United States of America is a good example of success in the practice of solidarity. The USA is a federalist republic in which the federal government has overall authority in issues of national security and other matters that require resources and decision-making at the national level. The state governments have authority over state resources and other matters according to federal laws and the laws of each state. Within each state, the county governments administer resources according to local needs. Cities have their own local government, police, etc. There are vertical checks and balances between county/city governments, state governments, and the federal government. At each level, there are horizontal checks and balances between the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. It has worked rather well during 230 years. No system is perfect, as the Katrina disaster recently showed. The Katrina disaster was a lamentable failure in the exercise of subsidiarity: those in authority at the local, state, and federal levels didn't know what to do and what to expect from lower/higher levels of authority.

The constitution of the emerging European Union (EU) has also embraced the principle of subsidiarity, though the checks and balances between the European government and the national governments have yet to be worked out. The text makes it clear, however, that the EU government will refrain from getting involved in the internal affairs of the EU nations; and, in turn, each of the EU nations will allow freedom of decision-making at the lowest possible level [06]. It is noteworthy that environmental policy is the first area of upward delegation of authority. Pollution knows no national boundaries. The day will come when there is a "United Nations of the World" (or "World Union," or whatever) and it is reasonable to anticipate that environmental policy will be the responsibility of the world government. Hopefully, keeping the peace between nations will be another one, with adequate resources (and adequate checks and balances) to prevent/terminate silly wars and the spread of aberrations such as terrorism, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.

According to the 2005 State of the Future Report, "this year's annual military expenditures will reach $1 trillion, and annual income for organized crime has passed $2 trillion. Yet the world has not dedicated the resources needed to stop water tables from falling, to narrow the rich-poor gap, or to provide safe and abundant energy" [07]. Can solidarity flourish under these conditions? Can we attain sustainability if current trends of human behavior continue? Clearly, application of the subsidiarity principle would not be sufficient to clean the current socio-ecological mess, but it would be helpful. The subsidiarity principle is increasingly being recognized as one that should be applied in the governance of all human institutions.


Another concept that may be useful in making solidarity and sustainability decisions is the precautionary principle [08]. The precautionary principle basically states that uncertainty does not exonerate us from doing something to prevent harm to humanity and the human habitat. As anyone who has done scientific work knows, there is always some degree of uncertainty. Scientists don't know what they don't know. Uncertainty is often used a pretext to do nothing.

Consider the issue of population growth. How many billions of people can the planet sustain is a question for which there is only one answer: "it depends ..." The answer depends on so many factors that it is impossible to provide "the answer" to the question. But it is a matter of common sense (which is, of course, "the least common of the senses") that, ceteris paribus, overcrowding the planet would probably exacerbate poverty, hunger, health problems, and environmental degradation, among other things. The precautionary principle would require that something be done to reduce the rate of population growth. How to do it is a separate issue. The precautionary principle does not offer a systematic method that can be adapted to resolve particular issues.

Consider the issue of excessive consumption of material resources. It is evident that some people are consuming too much, thereby creating too much pollution. It is also evident that some people are not consuming enough; else, there would be no poverty, no malnutrition, no children dying of hunger. But again, it is impossible to provide "the answer" to questions such as "what should be the global consumption per year?" or "what should be the global consumption per capita?" Again, the only reasonable answer is, "it depends ...." The analyses of ecological economics identify the consumption rate that is sustainable in terms of the biosphere's recycling capacity for renewable resources, but this is only a partial answer. What about non-renewable resources? What about the feasible rates of transition from non-renewable to renewable resources? What about ....?

What if ....? What if ....? Again, how to analyze the 'what ifs' is very difficult. Can we minimize the consumption of material resources that go into weapons and military/terrorist campaigns? Or the consumption that goes into national and international crime? Ceteris paribus, reducing extravagant, or military, or criminal consumption should be helpful, but it is hard to do a cost/benefit analysis. Perhaps for this reason, the precautionary principle has yet to appear in the radar screen of most government officials and corporate managers, let alone in the average citizen.


"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton's dictum is confirmed many cases in human history: Alexander the Great, the Pharaohs, the Roman Empire, the Communist "dictatorships of the proletariat," Nazi Germany, Iraq under Sadam Hussein, Cuba under Fidel Castro .... just to mention a few. Any excessive centralization of power suffocates most initiatives for authentic human progress. Sooner or later, absolute power also has a propensity to use violent repressive methods to keep "law and order." All forms of corruption flourish in socio-political systems where there is no accountability, no checks and balances, no subsidiarity.

Subsidiarity per se is not a magical fix for government corruption and other social ills. But there is a high correlation between nations that practice subsidiarity and nations that enjoy healthy economic development and socio-political stability. It does not seem to matter much whether the subsidiarity principle is applied via a federalist republic (such as the USA) or via a parliamentary democracy (such as the UK). The European Union has adopted the parliamentary system and has embraced the subsidiarity principle [09]. This provides no guarantee that the European Union will be a panacea, but it increases the confidence that it will work for the common good of all European nations.

On the other hand, there is a very low correlation between citizen wellbeing and centralized governments. Many of the third world nations are examples of the inadequacy of dictatorial governments where all decisions are made by a central bureaucracy. The need for subsidiarity in governance is becoming more evident with the recent trend toward globalization, which keeps increasing the gap between the very rich and the very poor (among nations and within nations) as material and human resources continue to flow from the poor to the rich and agents of environmental degradation keep flowing from the rich to the poor. The so-called "brain drain" is a case of intellectual capital flowing from the poor nations to the rich nations. The devastation of agricultural and forest resources by "agent orange" (especially in Southeast Asia) is a case of pollution flowing from the rich to the poor. But there is increasing awareness that local, national, regional, and global application of the subsidiarity principle is required to move forward [10].


"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton's dictum also applies to religious institutions. Likewise, the subsidiarity principle applies at all human institutions, both religious and secular. It certainly applies to religious institutions insofar as they are human institutions [11]. However, most religious institutions refuse to practice subsidiarity internally, i.e., in their own governance. In particular, this seems to be the case in religious institutions that are rigidly patriarchal, such as Islam and the Roman Catholic Church. This is not surprising. Patriarchy requires non-participatory decision-making and a mutually exclusive separation of those with authority from those without authority. Subsidiarity requires participatory decision-making, either egalitarian or hierarchical. In brief, patriarchy and subsidiarity cannot coexist. What else is there to say?


"This year's annual military expenditures will reach $1 trillion, and annual income for organized crime has passed $2 trillion. Yet the world has not dedicated the resources needed to stop water tables from falling, to narrow the rich-poor gap, or to provide safe and abundant energy" [07].

What can be the reason for this lamentable state of human affairs if not patriarchy? Patriarchy gets people addicted to wealth accumulation. Patriarchy gets people addicted to the exercise of absolute power. Patriarchy gets people addicted to self-sufficiency regardless of how it affects others. What are we doing about overcoming the patriarchal mindset? What are we doing to foster gender equity at any level: family, community, nation, region, planet? What are we doing about dismantling patriarchal structure of governance in both social and religious institutions?

"The world is slowly beginning to realize that improving the political and economic status of women is one of the most cost-effective ways to address the other 14 global challenges described in Chapter 1. Yet on average, women still get paid 18% less than men, and male violence to women causes more casualties than wars do" [07].

The criticality of making progress toward gender equity is evidenced by the data in Figure 2 (a, b, c, d). The charts show country by country values for four different gender equity indicators. Each one is based on analysis of gender equity in a significant number of countries. The numerical scales are different, but what really matters is the pattern of values over all countries. When the countries are sorted in decreasing value of gender equity, there are a few countries at the top and then the indicator values go downhill. With few exceptions, the 10 or 20 top countries are the same for the four indicators. These same 10 or 20 countries are also at the top regarding other quality of life factors (economic wellbeing, political stability, environmental sustainability, good education for all children, respect for human rights ....). Just a coincidence? Perhaps, but it would be a very interesting coincidence. Another interesting finding is that these 10 or 20 countries also share a democratic form of governance and a pluralism of religious traditions. On the other hand, the 10 or 20 countries at the bottom of the gender equity scales share the opposite situation: poverty, lack of education, dictatorial and corrupt governments, and the overwhelming social influence of a single patriarchal religion. Another coincidence? Perhaps, but these would be extremely interesting coincidences. While it is well known that the economic equity gap may be amplified by "the big fish eating the little fish," this does not exonerate the little fish from seeking solidarity and sustainability in "truth, freedom, and care," and acting accordingly. It is easy to ask the USA and other first world nations to keep writing checks, but will the money reach and help the poor, or end up in the pockets of the local patriarchies ... both secular and religious?

Figure 2a: Gender Equity Index
Figure 2b: Gender Gap Ranking
Figure 2c: Gender Empowerment Measure
Figure 2d: Gender Development Index

Figure 2 - Plots for Comparative Analysis of Gender Equity Indicators
Data: The Project on Human Development, Boston University [12]. Plots: The vertical axes reflect the numerical scale of the indicators. The length of the horizontal axes is the number of countries. The plotted data show indicator values in descending order of gender equity. See [12] for the factors used in the formulation of each indicator.

What are secular institutions doing? The United Nations has declared gender equity as one of the eight "Millennium Development Goals." At the national level, about 15% of parliamentary seats are occupied by women (it was close to 0% not long ago). In the first world countries, families are increasingly sending girls to school up to and including college, and the outlook for young ladies is improving in both business and professional careers, including politics. Many families are migrating from the husband-father domination mentality to a husband-wife partnership in which all important decisions are made together. In many poor countries, on the other hand, the outlook for girls remains grim.

What are religious institutions doing? Most of them are doing nothing, or practically nothing. In some cases, benign contempt has replaced harsher practices; but there is still a lot of wife beating going on under the pretext that the husband has a divine appointment to keep his wife under control. In some cases, new "doctrines" are emerging that ensure (as a matter of divine revelation) the continued male monopoly of all roles of official religious authority [13]. Lip service is given to the "dignity of women," but women need not apply to positions of legitimate religious dignity. Some Christian churches have started ordaining women, but others still refuse. The case of the Roman Catholic Church (1.1 billion people) is especially sad: the same church that claims to have "the power of the keys" [Matthew 16:19, 18:18, 28:16-20] now says that she is "not authorized" by God to ordain women!

Misogyny stills reigns supreme in most of the Islamic world (1.4 billion people). However, there are reports of significant scholarly research to determine the intent of the original sources (Mohammed and his wife Arisha) with regard to the role of women in both mosque and society. A new wave of "Islamic feminism" is emerging, and many scholars are saying that Islamic misogyny is more a cultural issue than a religious one. It is a fact that the Quran allows polygamy, but then again, it is reasonable to think that not even the prophet Mohammed was immune to the macho culture of seventh century Arabia. The other major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism ....) are not significantly ahead of Islam when it comes to overcoming religious patriarchies.

There are signs of hope though. Many Protestant churches now have both male and female clergy, and some already have women serving as bishops. But "old habits die hard," and there is still some resistance to women at the higher levels of priestly ministry. There are reports that some Orthodox churches are considering ordaining women to the diaconate, but it is hard to see this happening soon. Some branches of Judaism already admit women to the rabbinate; others still refuse. The Bahais are a tiny but increasingly brilliant star, and they have produced one of the most beautiful declarations of gender equity in the religious sphere [14].

The Islamic world is very fragmented, and it will take a long time for some branches to gather the courage to start admitting women to the ranks of the clergy. But, in the case of the Roman Catholic Church (1.1 billion people), which is a monolithic structure, the lack of progress is hard to understand. There is a shortage of priests that makes it practically impossible to meet the pastoral needs of millions. Scientific surveys in several countries have shown that most of the faithful would be in favor of ordaining women [15]. There are a huge number of celibate, theologically trained women religious who could be ordained in short order. Doctrinal rationalizations of the male-only priesthood have been shown to be without theological foundation [13]. But those at the highest levels (the Pope, the Roman Curia) do not want women to be ordained, pure and simple. Apparently it is more important to reaffirm that "the church never makes doctrinal mistakes." Perhaps it is a matter of showing is in charge. Only God can judge, but something smells fishy. Amid signs of incredible internal corruption and cover-ups, the Vatican remains frozen in a male "God" and a male hierarchy. That this is not what Jesus intended is evident from the resurrection accounts, which bear witness to Jesus appearing first to Mary Magdalene, whom he sends as "apostle to the apostles."

But human civilization is not frozen .... the "signs of the times" cannot be frozen ....

"This then is the dark side of our [Judeo-Christian] religious heritage--the darn and indeed the sick side of spirituality diverted from its higher purpose by the dominator ethos. It's understandably hard for many of us to come to grips with this. But if we don't, we unthinkingly accept a system that continues to cause enormous suffering" [16].

"My view, shared with many others and often felt to be self-evident, is that a tendency for males to band together and be easily roused to an aggressive group effort is innate ... Males encouraged to behave these ways do so because the behavior is reinforcing ... Evolution has made such bonding and expression of ferocity a pleasure because it enhanced male reproductive success ... females, sometimes even many females, can be similarly roused to aggression ... They can even be so roused by anger that they become frighteningly aggressive, even vicious ... but it is much harder to rouse great numbers of women to this state of aggression and harder still to keep them there because, on average, women find greater reinforcement in an environment that is not in turmoil. Because of genetic inclinations that are as deeply rooted as the bonding-for-aggression inclinations of men, most women would prefer to make or keep the peace, the sooner the better" [17].

"At international conferences throughout the 1990's--in Rio de Janeiro, Vienna, Cairo, and Beijing--a new vision of women's health, welfare, and rights was created. This vision acknowledged the deep connections between support for educational, economic, social, and political opportunity for women on the one hand, and progress in stabilizing population growth, protecting the environment, and improving human health on the other. Despite its potency, this vision has yet to be fully realized. Gender myopia, or blindness to the inequities between women and men, continues to afflict women in many different settings. [This research paper] reviews the state of women around the globe, documents the links between women's welfare and population, and charts the progress, or lack thereof, in achieving the gender equity that must underlie any viable effort to attain sustainability." [18].

How much longer will secular and religious institutions keep resisting further progress toward gender equity?


The path from patriarchy to both solidarity and sustainability passes through the minds and hearts of the 6+ billion people living on planet Earth today. Objective evidence indicates that solidarity and sustainability are not achievable unless the patriarchal mindset is neutralized. This difficult mindset purification is bound to be a very painful transition ("no pain, no gain"). But the transition could be made smoother by the widespread practice of meditation.

"Meditation refers to any of a wide variety of spiritual practices (and their close secular analogues) which emphasize mental activity or quiescence." [19]. Meditation is for everyone. It may be a secular exercise pursuant to human relaxation and self-knowledge [20]. Or it may be a spiritual exercise for the religious believer trying to penetrate divine mysteries and their meaning in daily life [21]. Learning to meditate, whether in a secular or religious context, requires discipline and is seldom accomplished without expert guidance.

In addition to making progress in the inner journey, meditation is a way of becoming closer to God (for the religious believer) and a way of becoming closer to the entire human race and the entire natural world (for believers and non-believers alike). Becoming closer to the entire human race can't hurt the cause of human solidarity. Becoming closer to nature can't hurt any effort pursuant to sustainability. No wonder there is a meditation room in the United Nations building in New York. There should be one in every institution, secular or religious. The need for meditation in the process of human development is recognized by all the human sciences and all the spiritual traditions [22].

We all need to meditate for our own benefit. We all need to meditate on solidarity and sustainability. We all need to meditate on the patriarchal mindset, and how to give it up. And those of us who believe in God, let us pray for each other, for peace on Earth, and for the preservation of the human habitat!


The following list of selected references does not provide a comprehensive bibliography. Care has been taken to include references that reflect opposite viewpoints in some controversial issues. Some references are supplemented by relevant quotations as well as brief comments relevant to solidarity, sustainability, patriarchy, and gender equity issues.

[01] See, for example, War and Human Progress: An Essay on the Rise of Industrial Civilization, J. U. Neff, W.W. Norton & Company, 1968, and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond, Viking, 2005, 575 pages. Depending on how "progress" is defined, sometimes it is measurable. The are indicators that attempt to show whether progress is positive or negative, and in what sense. For example, see Measuring Development: An Index of Human Progress, Joel Emes and Tony Hahn, The Fraser Institute, Public Policy Sources 36, 2001, and The Genuine Progress Indicator, Jason Venetoulis and Cliff Cobb, Redefining Progress, March 2004.

[02] The first social scientist to postulate a theory of human progress was Auguste Comte, The Law of Human Progress, Auguste Comte, Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, 1824. The following book is excellent and more recent: The Triumph of Liberty, Jim Powell, The Free Press, New York, 2000, 574 pages.

[03] The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, Fritjof Capra, Anchor Books, 1996, 347 pages. The Hidden Connections: Integrating the Biological, Cognitive, and Social Dimensions of Life into a Science of Sustainability, Fritjof Capra, Doubleday, 2002, 300 pages.

"This, then, is the crux of the human condition. We are autonomous individuals, shaped by our own history of structural changes. We are self-aware, aware of our individual identity--and yet when we look for an independent self within our world of experience we cannot find any such entity .... These, then, are some of the basic principles of [human] ecology -- interdependence, recycling, partnership, flexibility, diversity, and, as a consequence of all those, sustainability. As our century comes to a close and we go toward the beginning of a new millennium, the survival of humanity will depend on our ecological literacy, on our ability to understand these principles of [human] ecology and live accordingly" (The Web of Life, pages 295, 304).

"By challenging the patriarchal order and value system, the women's movement has introduced a new understanding of masculinity and personhood that does not need to associate manhood with material possessions. At the deepest level, feminist awareness is based on women's experiential knowledge that all life is connected, that our existence is always embedded in the cyclical processes of nature. Feminist consciousness, accordingly, focuses on finding fulfillment in nurturing relationships rather than in the accumulation of material goods" (The Hidden Connections, page 265).

[04] The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, Thomas Berry, Bell Tower, New York, 1999, 241 pages.

"The historical mission of our times is to reinvent the human -- at the species level, with critical reflection, within the community of life-systems, in a time-developmental context, by means of story and shared dream experience .... In these opening years of the twenty-first century, as the human community experiences a rather difficult situation in its relation to the natural world, we might reflect that a fourfold wisdom is available to guide us into the future: The wisdom of indigenous peoples, the wisdom of women, the wisdom of the classical traditions, and the wisdom of science .... The wisdom of women is to join the knowing of the body to that of the mind, to join soul to spirit, intuition to reasoning, feeling consciousness to intellectual analysis, intimacy to detachment, subjective presence to objective distance. When these functions become separated in carrying out the human project, then the way into the future is to bring them together" (The Great Work, pages 159, 176, 180).

[05] The principle of subsidiarity was introduced in Volume 1 Number 3 of this newsletter. At this point, the reader may wish to review the basic definitions of solidarity, subsidiarity, and sustainability: dictionary definition of solidarity tutorial article on solidarity dictionary definition of subsidiarity tutorial article on subsidiarity dictionary definition of sustainability tutorial article on sustainability

The concept of subsidiarity was introduced by Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, S.J. (1793–1862) to complement the concept of sociality (or solidarity). See Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, S.J. (1793–1862) and the Development of Scholastic Natural-Law Thought As a Science of Society and Politics, Thomas C. Behr, Journal of Markets & Morality, Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2003, pp. 99-115. Behr quotes Taparelli as follows: "Every consortium must conserve its own unity in such a way as to not lose the unity of the larger whole; and every higher society must provide for the unity of the larger whole without destroying the unity of the consortia" (page 107). "The perfecting of the extension of social communications introduces little by little a wise cosmopolitism habituating one to consider all of the nations as families in the universal society, without, however, losing the special love of one’s own (page 109).

The following are some additional references on the principle of subsidiarity, its importance in conjunction with solidarity and sustainability, and how it should be used.

The Principle of Subsidiarity, David A. Bosnich, The Acton Institute, Religion & Liberty, July-August 1996. "One of the key principles of Catholic social thought is known as the principle of subsidiarity. This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State."

Subsidiarity in page 804 of the Dictionary of Human Geography, Edited by R. J. Johnston et al, Blackwell Publishers, 2000, 958 pages.

Position Paper of the Executive Committee of the Leuenberg Church Fellowship concerning the Work of the EU Convention on the Future of Europe, Elisabeth Parmentier et al, The Fellowship of Protestant Churches in Europe, Strasbourg, 22 June 2002. "We underline the necessity of bringing about equal chances in economic competition with a view to reaching a genuine cohesion. A binding structural framework is essential for the fundamental goals of solidarity, subsidiarity and sustainability to be achieved in a social market economy in ecological responsibility."

The Ethics of Government and Business: What is Valued Most, Leo Huberts et al, EGPA Study Group 'Ethics and Integrity of Governance,' Oeiras, Portugal, September 2003.

Responsibility for Sustainable Development, Novartis Foundation, 2003. "According to the principle of subsidiarity, the central responsibility for national sustainable development always lies primarily with the country concerned itself – and this starts with the commitment to good governance. Only when a maximum of effort has been mobilized among all the parties with all the forces available to the best of one’s knowledge and belief – and this still proves insufficient to solve the problem – does the additional principle of solidarity come into play. Solidarity is concrete action by those who have at their disposal more financial resources, more knowledge and more opportunities to exert influence for the benefit of the public good, and in particular for the benefit of those who are socially disadvantaged. This applies not only for relations between rich and poor countries, but also for social relations within societies. Applying the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity implies that only support and help can be offered from “outside”, that there is no substitute for a lack of constructive political will."

New Regional Development Paradigms: Decentralization, Governance and the New Planning for Local-Level Development, Walter Stohr, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 2003. "Globalization has two sides. On one hand, it has brought significant advances in economic, technological and democratic terms to many countries; on the other hand, in spite of these advances, poverty, hunger, health hazards, technological gaps and disparities in human welfare have also increased. Essentially, there has and continues to be a widening rift between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. To address this increasing inequality, development efforts need to focus on and empower those who are being left behind. This requires a greater focus on and empowerment of local communities, which in turn requires the decentralization of administrative and political decision-making processes. In this introductory chapter, Stohr lays out the main themes of the book: 1) decentralization, 2) governance and the need to consider subsidiarity, equity and sustainability, and 3) the importance of civil society. Stohr also proffers a warning, namely that globalization and decentralization in tandem may harbinger the further fragmentation of civil society and undermine local power. However, the author concludes with recommendation to stave of this disintegration of social cohesion."

[06] Treaty of Maastricht on European Union, see the section entitled Principle of Subsidiarity. "The Treaty on European Union has established the principle of subsidiarity as a general rule, which was initially applied to environmental policy in the Single European Act. This principle specifies that in areas that are not within its exclusive powers the Community shall only take action where objectives can best be attained by action at Community rather than at national level. Article A provides that the Union shall take decisions as close as possible to the citizen." Also recommended: God and Caesar in the New Europe, John Coughlan, America, Vol. 189 No. 3, 4 August 2003.

[07] 2005 State of the Future Report, Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, Millennium Project, American Council for the United Nations University, November 2005. "The world has grown to 6.5 billion people, the annual economy is approaching $60 trillion, and the Internet is connecting 1 billion people. Future synergies among nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science can dramatically improve the human condition by increasing the availability of food, energy, and water and by connecting people and information anywhere. The effect will be to increase collective intelligence and create value and efficiency while lowering costs. Yet a previous and troubling finding from the Millennium Project still remains unresolved: although it is increasingly clear that humanity has the resources to address its global challenges, unfortunately it is not increasingly clear how much wisdom, goodwill, and intelligence will be focused on these challenges .... This year's annual military expenditures will reach $1 trillion, and annual income for organized crime has passed $2 trillion. Yet the world has not dedicated the resources needed to stop water tables from falling, to narrow the rich-poor gap, or to provide safe and abundant energy."

The table of contents for the complete report is as follows:

1. Global Challenges
2. State of the Future Index (SOFI)
3. National SOFIs: Back-testing and Effects of Dataset Changes
4. Future Ethical Issues
5. Nanotechnology: Future Military Environmental Health Considerations
6. Emerging Environmental Security Issues
7. Sustainable Development Index and Quality and Sustainability of Life Indicators

The global challenges are the following:

1. Sustainable Development
2. Water
3. Population and Resources
4. Democratization
5. Global, Long-Term Policymaking
6. Globalization of Information Technology
7. Rich-Poor Gap
8. Changing Disease Threats
9. Decision-Making Capacities
10. Peace and Conflict
11. Improving Women's Status
12. Transnational Crime
13. Energy Demands
14. Science and Technology
15. Global Ethics

[08] The Precautionary Principle, Wingspread Conference on the Precautionary Principle, 26 January 1998. "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action". Recommended references on the precautionary principle:

Precautionary Tools for Reshaping Environmental Policy, Edited by Nancy J. Myers and Carolyn Raffensperger, The MIT Press, November 2005, 400 pages. "The precautionary principle calls for taking action against threatened harm to people and ecosystems even in the absence of full scientific certainty. The rationale is that modern technologies and human activities can inflict long-term, global-scale environmental damage and that conclusive scientific evidence of such damage may be available too late to avert it. The precautionary principle asks whether harm can be prevented instead of assessing degrees of "acceptable" risk. This book provides a toolkit for applying precautionary concepts to reshape environmental policies at all levels. Its compendium of regulatory options, detailed examples, wide-ranging case studies, and theoretical background provides both citizens and policymakers with the basis for acting on any issue in any situation -- whether it's pesticide use at local schools or a new international regulatory system for chemicals."

The Importance of the Precautionary Principle, Michael Pollan, Science & Environmental Health Network, 9 December 2001. Excerpt: "The problem with risk analysis, which came out of the world of engineering and caught on during the late 70's, is that it hasn't done a very good job predicting the ecological and health effects of many new technologies. It is very good at measuring what we can know - say, the weight a suspension bridge can bear - but it has trouble calculating subtler, less quantifiable risks. (The effect of certain neurotoxins on a child's neurological development, for example, appears to have more to do with the timing of exposure than with the amount.) Whatever can't be quantified falls out of the risk analyst's equations, and so in the absence of proven, measurable harms, technologies are simply allowed to go forward."

The Precautionary Principle, Wikipedia, 2005. Excerpt: "The precautionary principle, a phrase first used in English circa 1988, is the idea that if the consequences of an action are unknown, but are judged to have some potential for major or irreversible negative consequences, then it is better to avoid that action. The principle can alternately be applied in an active sense, through the concept of "preventative anticipation" ..., or a willingness to take action in advance of scientific proof of evidence of the need for the proposed action on the grounds that further delay will prove ultimately most costly to society and nature, and, in the longer term, selfish and unfair to future generations. In practice the principle is most often applied in the context of the impact of human civilization or new technology on the environment, as the environment is a complex system where the consequences of some kinds of actions are often unpredictable."

The Precautionary Principle in Action: A Handbook, Joel Tickner, Carolyn Raffensperger and Nancy Myers, Science & Environmental Health Network, 1999. "The litmus test for knowing when to apply the precautionary principle is the combination of threat of harm and scientific uncertainty.... For new activities the emphasis will be on shifting the burden of proof to proponents of a potentially harmful activity.... For existing activities the most useful tool is the heart of the precautionary principle: action before proof of harm, again, with the burden on the proponent." (pages 3, 7)

The Precautionary Principle is Coherent, Mae Wan Ho, ISIS Paper, 31 October 2000. "The precautionary principle is not an algorithm for making decisions, but a principle for making decisions based on available evidence. So let's look at the evidence."

Science and the Precautionary Principle, Kenneth R. Foster, Paolo Vecchia, Michael H. Repacholi, Science, 12 May 2000, pp. 979-981. "Few policies for risk management have created as much controversy as the Precautionary Principle. Emerging in European environmental policies in the late 1970s (1), the principle has become enshrined in numerous international treaties and declarations. It is, by the Treaty on European Union (1992), the basis for European environmental law, and plays an increasing role in developing environmental health policies as well."

A Commonsense Framework for Operationalizing the Precautionary Principle, Joel Tickner, Paper prepared for the Wingspread Conference on Strategies for Implementing the Precautionary Principle, Racine, WI, 23-25 January 1998.

"In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation." Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 14 June 1992, 31 ILM 874.

"Community policy on the environment...shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive actions should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay. Maastricht Treaty on the European Union, 21 September 1994, 31 ILM 247, 285-86.

[09] Political subsidiarity: The subsidiarity principle and the role of national parliaments. Economic subsidiarity: Report of the Council on Economic Policy Co-ordination, European Council, Vienna, 11-12 December 1998.

[10] The following are some examples of this increasing awareness:

Best practices for the CBNRM programme to work with Regional and Local Authorities, Traditional Authorities and line ministries to facilitate integrated and collaborative support to community-based CBOs working on common property natural resource management, Brian T. B. Jones with Sima Luipert, Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organizations (NACSO), 2002, page 43.
The Regions in Action for tomorrow's Europe, Klaus Klipp, The Assembly of European Regions Quarterly Newsletter, Spring 2002.
Asia-Pacific Initiative for Sustainable Development, Hans van Ginkel, Rector, UNU, Tokyo, 19 January 2004.
Transcending the Border: Whither Italo-Slovene borderland integration?, Jeremy Faro, Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge, 2002, page 21.
Conclusions and Recommendations in Business Services Institutions, UNECE, Expert Meeting on Best Practice in Business Advisory, Counseling and Information Services, 2-3 November 2000, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Conclusion 8: "In accordance with the EU principle of subsidiarity, services are most effective when they are brought as physically close to small-scale entrepreneurs as possible. Government institutions and international organizations should use local support structures to ensure outreach to a critical mass of clients."

[11] The following are some references pertaining to the governance of the Roman Catholic Church:

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), Promulgated by Pope Paul VI, 21 November 1964. Article 22 declares the absolute power of the pope over the entire church, at all levels, worldwide: "But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff."

Things get worse in Article 25, regarding the "infallibility" of the Pope: "This infallibility, however, with which the divine redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining doctrine pertaining to faith and morals, is co-extensive with the deposit of revelation, which must be religiously guarded and loyally and courageously expounded. The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful--who confirms his brethren in the faith (cf. Lk. 22:32)--he proclaims in an absolute decision a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. For that reason his definitions are rightly said to be irreformable by their very nature and not by reason of the assent of the Church, is as much as they were made with the assistance of the Holy Spirit promised to him in the person of blessed Peter himself; and as a consequence they are in no way in need of the approval of others, and do not admit of appeal to any other tribunal."

Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II, Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, Free Press, 24 February 2004, 368 pages.
Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children, Jason Berry, Andrew M. Greeley (Foreword), University of Illinois Press, April 2000, 407 pages.
Let's Review: Global History and Geography, Mary Martin et al, Editors, Barron's Educational Series, 3rd edition, April 2000, 724 pages (see page 346).
Why Subsidiarity Doesn't Apply to Episcopal Power, The World Seen from Rome, ZENIT Weekly News Analysis, 20 October 2001.
The People of God and their Responsibility: Subsidiarity in Church and Society, Peter Hünermann, in Human and Economic Development. The Importance of civil Society and Subsidiarity, Thomas W. Scheidweiler (Editor), Auslandsakademie, Ghana, 12-16 November 1998; published by KAAD, Bonn, 2002
Religious Bodies, Subsidiarity and Development in Ghana, Elom Dovlo, in Human and Economic Development. The Importance of civil Society and Subsidiarity, Thomas W. Scheidweiler (Editor), Auslandsakademie, Ghana, 12-16 November 1998, published by KAAD, Bonn, 2002
The Concept of Subsidiarity in Church, State and Society, Congress of the Johannes Althusius Gesellschaft (an international and interdisciplinary academic association dedicated to the research of early modern legal thought, political theory and constitutional history), 2000.
Selected problems of application of the principle of subsidiarity in Canon Law, Stanislav Poibyl, Review of Canonic Law, 8-3, 1997. Abstract: "The principle of subsidiarity is one of the pillars of catholic social science, which uses it to assess the quality of life of civil society. Koblenz lawyer Paul-Stefan Freiling takes into account the effect of the principle of subsidiarity in church on all of its levels in his thesis "Das Subsidiaritätsprinzip im kirchlichen Recht". This contribution is a summary of his ideals about the enforcement of subsidiarity on the highest level of Church organization. Although the CIC/1917 is marked by a strongly centralistic conception of papacy along the lines of the First Vatican Council, there are already some signs of subsidiary relations between the papacy and local Churches. CIC/1983 gives much more room to subsidiarity and the extent in which it will be enforced depends mainly on the relationship between the Pope and the college of bishops in practice."
Inside the Vatican, Thomas J. Reese, Woodstock Report, No. 48, December 1996.
Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church, Thomas J. Reese, Harvard University Press, 1996.
Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church, Thomas J. Reese, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989. Includes the following quotes:

Empirical research by psychologists and sociologists on bishops and other [church] administrators is apparently nonexistent. Eugene C. Kennedy and Victor J. Heckler
What does it take to keep the Archbishop happy? Wine, women, and song. Priest, St. Louis
Unless the pastor is turned on with something, your program is going to end up in file thirteen. Director of Planning, Louisville
Any diocese can give to the People of God only what the People of God can pay for. Msgr. Benjamin G. Hawkes
While money isn't everything, it's probably better than holy pictures for paying people's salaries. Archbishop Edward T. O'Meara
The hardest part of my job is to be sandwiched between Roman orders and my people and priests' hopes and ideals. Archbishop Rembert Weakland

[12] The plots of Figure 2 were generated by running queries for each indicator, all countries, using the online database of the The Project on Human Development, Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, Boston University. Notes for the GEI, GGR, GEM, and GDI:

  • Gender Equity Index (GEI). "Average of gender and wealth (ratio of male to female income), gender and knowledge (difference between male and female school enrollment rates), and gender and community (% of seats in national parliament held by women). A higher value indicates better gender equity. Year: mid- to late 1990s. Country Coverage: 178. The Wellbeing of Nations: A Country-by-Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment, Robert Prescott-Allen, Washington: Island Press, 2001."
  • Gender Gap Ranking (GGR). "All scores are reported on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 representing maximum gender equality. The World Economic Forum has undertaken this study to facilitate the work of governments, aid agencies and NGOs by providing a benchmarking tool to assess the size of the gender gap, ranking countries according to the level of advancement of their female population. The Gender Gap Report quantifies the size of the gender gap in 58 countries, including all 30 OECD countries and 28 other emerging markets. The study measures the extent to which women have achieved full equality with men in five critical areas: economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, health and well-being. Women's Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap."
  • Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM). "Like the Gender-related Development Index (GDI), the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) measures gender inequality, but in economic and political spheres of activity. The GEM captures gender inequality in three key areas: (1) Political participation and decision-making power, as measured by women’s and men’s percentage shares of parliamentary seats, (2) Economic participation and decision-making power, as measured by two indicators: women’s and men’s percentage shares of positions as legislators, senior officials and managers and women’s and men’s percentage shares of professional and technical positions, and (3) Power over economic resources, as measured by women’s and men’s estimated earned income (PPP US$). A higher value indicates a higher level of gender empowerment. Year: 2002. Coverage: 173 nations. Millennium Indicators Database, United Nations, 2003."
  • Gender Development Index (GDI). "The Gender-related Development Index (GDI) measures the same variables as the Human Development Index (HDI) except that the GDI adjusts for gender inequalities in the three aspects of human development. The GDI uses the same variables as the HDI. The difference is that the GDI adjusts the average achievement of each country in life expectancy, literacy and gross enrolment, and income in accordance with the disparity in achievement between men and women. A higher value indicates a higher level of gender-related development. Year: 2002. Coverage: 147 nations. The Human Development Report, United Nations, 2003."

[13] Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Apostolic Letter, Pope John Paul II, The Vatican, 22 May 1994. This is a literalist ("literalist," not literal) interpretation of the New Testament texts. It is a crude rationalization of the current practice of excluding women from one of the sacraments of the church. Why is it that the only call that cannot be examined is women's call to the priesthood? Why is it that God cannot call women to the priesthood? The following is an example of how the Vatican handles dissent: On Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Responsum ad Dubium, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 28 October 1995. "Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith. Responsum: In the affirmative. This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith." What about the sensus fidelium? See [14].

[14] Two Wings of a Bird: The Equality of Women and Men, A Statement by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, 1998. "In proclaiming the oneness of mankind, (Bahá'u'lláh) taught that men and women are equal in the sight of God and that there is no distinction to be made between them. The only difference between them now is due to lack of education and training. If woman is given equal opportunity of education, distinction and estimate of inferiority will disappear. The world of humanity has two wings, as it were: One is the female; the other is the male. If one wing be defective, the strong perfect wing will not be capable of flight." Abdu'l-Bahá

[15] The Laity and Reform in the Church: Data and Analysis from a Seven-Nation Study (Germany, Spain, Ireland, United States, Italy, Poland, Philippines), Andrew Greeley, University of Chicago, and Michael Hout, University of California at Berkeley, October 1997. The following questions were used in the survey:

1. "Which would you consider more important in choosing a pope, that the pope show more concern about what life is like for ordinary people or that the pope should show more concern about religious issues?
2. "Would you favor or oppose the next pope permitting priests to marry?
3. "Currently Catholic bishops are appointed by the Vatican. In the past bishops were elected by priests and people within their own dioceses. Would your prefer the next pope to continue to appoint bishops or would you prefer to have bishops chosen by priests and people within their own diocese?
4. "How would you feel about letting representative lay people have more of a voice in the Catholic Church for example by serving as advisors to the pope. Would you favor this?
5. "Would you like to see the next pope give more decision making power to the bishops in this country or do you think the pope should continue to make most of the decisions for the church?
6. "Would you favor or oppose the next pope allowing the ordination of women to the priesthood?
7. "Would you like the next pope to be more open to change in the church or do you think things are OK the war they are?"
The results reported by Greeley and Hout (in 1997, after Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994, and Responsum ad Dubium, 1995) are tabulated below. It is reasonable to infer that the numbers would be even higher today.

Source: Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout, 1997 Survey

[16] The Power of Partnership, Riane Eisler, New World Library, 2002, 279 pages (quotation is from page 193).

[17] Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace, Judith L. Hand, Questpath Publishing, 2003, 187 pages (quotation is from pages 44-45). The e-book is a free download.

[18] Correcting Gender Myopia: Gender Equity, Women's Welfare, And The Environment, Danielle Nierenberg, Worldwatch Paper #161, September 2002, 62 pages (quotation is from the online summary). The e-paper is a free download.

[19] Meditation, Wikipedia, 2005. For several definitions and types of meditation, see Meditation,, 2005.

[20] The Learning Meditation website is very informative (last updated 2005, but the author is not identified). The following are some good books: The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth, M. Scott Peck, 25th Anniversary Edition, Touchstone, 2003, 320 pages, The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, Dalai Lama, Riverhead, 1998, 322 pages, Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, Thomas Moore, Harper, 1994, 336 pages, and Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals, Thomas Moore, Gotham Books, 2004, 329 pages.

[21] Each of the major religious traditions has sacred scriptures that provide the basic resource for meditation (the Bible in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Koran in the Islamic tradition, etc.). For general information on Christian tradition, see Christian Meditation, Wikipedia, 2005. In the Catholic Christian tradition, a classic is The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola (early 16th century CE). In addition to sacred scriptures, religious art is also a resource for meditation; for instance, the icons of the Eastern/Orthodox Christian tradition, now also becoming a source of inspiration for Christians in the West. In any form of religious meditation, the guidance of a learned and experienced spiritual director is almost indispensable for the neophyte.

[22] The following are just a few examples:

Buddhism and Development, Sulak Sivaraksa, Conference on Development and Liberation in the 3rd Millennium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 16-21 October 2000.

Culture of Peace, Ramesh Nath Joshi, Secretary General, Peace Education Academy of Nepal; Conference of the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association, 2003.

Sky Dragon Talk, Delivered by Kevin Mackay at McMaster University on Friday, 21 November 2002.

Book Review of Ecological Utopias: Envisioning the Sustainable Society. M. de Geus, International Books, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1999, Leslie Paul Thiele, Ecology and Society, Volume 4, Number 1, July 2000.

Global Meditation Focus Group - For the Highest Good of All. See A Communion of Souls For The Highest Good of All, Meditation Focus #113, June 2004.

Peace Begins With Ourselves, Living In Harmony With One Another And With The Earth, International Day of Peace (September 21st, since 1982), Pathways To Peace, UN Peace Messenger Organization.

Solidarity Exercises, North Texas Maryknoll Affiliates. Go to Exercise 1 for an online meditation on solidarity. Keep going to Exercise 2 and Exercise 3.

Seed Collection Meditation, Deborah Shore, Faith in Place, 1998. See also Sisters for Earth, Rosemary Radford Ruether; Sustainable Development, John Shilling; Linking Justice and the Environment, Stephen A. Perkins; and The Connection Between Environment and Justice, Jacky Grimshaw.



"I want to bring motherly sensitivity and emotion to the presidency ... hope my win will raise the participation of women not just in Liberia but also in Africa." Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President, Liberia

"Never before in my political life have I been taken so seriously as woman ... and I think that a woman as chancellor can also serve as a good example." Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany


Luis T. Gutierrez







Copyright © 2005 by Luis T. Gutierrez

From Patriarchy to Solidarity,
Sustainability, and
Sustainable Development

United Nations
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Feedback from readers, subject to editing, will be included here, as well as responses from the editor if appropriate. Inflammatory feedback will be discarded.

Subscribers also can submit announcements (to be posted free of charge) consistent with the goal of this project. Announcements must be brief and provide a point of contact, including the person's name and email address.

Please send your inputs by email to: Editor

Recent Feedback

John D McRuer, Chairman, Global Systems Project, Canadian Association for the Club of Rome, submitted some excellent and challenging feedback: "I am most impressed with your advocacy efforts with respect to sustainability. I would like very much to see you succeed. I work with a group from the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome doing simulations of environment-economy interactions, projecting scenarios for the global system from 2004 to 2104. The process we use is called Integrated Assessment Modelling; it is of a family of techniques used by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, we go beyond just climate change, for there are other crises looming that are exacerbated by climate change, but not caused by it. I will spare you the details, but our primary focus is on strategy: what is the prognosis? What has to be done to improve it? How likely is it to be done? What are the consequences of not doing it? Should we assume that the system of human civilization will collapse? If so, what can be done to create a soft landing? Who has to do it? Who CAN do it?

"Addressing such questions inevitably causes controversy and there is never any certainty. However, with the use of interactive (i.e. Game-like) simulation we do the best we can, and do get a few glimpses of how things might turn out when various political, social, and religious responses are made. The results tend to be pretty gloomy, but there is no evidence that the world is about to end.

"Considering the obvious effort you are putting into “Solidarity and Sustainability” I am a bit distressed about its naivety. I can’t go into a detailed critique here, but I will point out a few serious problems. ....."

Response: Surely I am naive; only a very naive person can attempt making some sense of how things happen at the intersection of economics, ecology, human sexuality, social addictions, organized religion ..... but this is my retirement project, and it may not be satisfactory to more analytical minds, but it is certainly entertaining for me. Please be assured that I am taking this project seriously, but not too seriously.

Having said this, may I remind you that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between naivete and intuition. A mathematical analysis of the complex global issues under consideration is virtually impossible, due to the many nonlinearities involved. There are simulation methods that overcome this obstacle, but they are restricted to what can be measured with numbers. Surely, you can quantify intangibles, but then again, what seems reasonable to one person seems naive to another. Except in a simulated world, the complex global issues under scrutiny are not amenable to scientific experimentation under controlled conditions. It follows, that any number crunching you do, no matter how precise and accurate, must be submitted to judgement, intuition, the data of experience, and wisdom, before any policy recommendations can be made; else, the resulting policies would be *really naive.*

Your comments bring to mind another important point. I am using the so-called "spiral" method of writing, as opposed to linear writing. In linear writing about A --> B --> C, you fully explain A, then B, then C, and you are done. But when A --> B --> C --> A, the linear method of writing brakes down, as I am sure you know, because A cannot be fully explained until it has been affected by B and C. One alternative is spiral writing, where you provide some degree of understanding of A, then the same for B, then the same for C, then you can go back and provide a better understanding of A, and you may have to go through several iterations before a full explanation of A, B, and C is given. Some readers who are impatient to see the "bottom line" find this approach difficult, and the first iteration may seem naive to them. This is unfortunate, but there is no way in the world that these complex global issues can be explained by linear writing. Perhaps I should be more explicit in informing the readers of the newsletter that we are following the spiral method, and have yet to complete the first iteration around the main loop of our process model.

Note: Several long emails followed in both directions .... some agreements to agree, some agreements to disagree .... among the agreements to agree:

John D McRuer: "I am very strong in my belief that whatever solutions there are must come from the grass roots. The grass roots are the constituency that legitimizes the leaders; they can't get away for long doing anything the grass roots won't accept. It doesn't matter whether the polity is democratic or authoritarian. (The difference lies only in the way they fire their leaders.) Leaders get fired when they are either irrelevant or toxic, although like Saddam, they generally hang on for a long time before they get dumped. Our group's game is to use simulations to let grass roots opinion leaders find out for themselves what the real (i.e. the simulated) situation is. We need a new leadership and we won't get it without much more informed grass roots, with new and creative ideas about how to fix the system that generates leaders."

Response: I basically agree. However, in order to generate more grassroots leaders, the patriarchal mindset problem must be overcome. We are making some progress in this area. For instance, goal 3 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is to achieve gender equity. And the feminist movement has contributed to make gender discrimination politically incorrect, at least in most of the West. But nothing human is perfect, and the feminist movement has at times been radicalized to the extent of creating animosity between men and women. This is bad. Also bad (in my opinion) is the emphasis on the "reproductive rights of women," including abortion.

Something that really bothers me, is the fact that the largest religious institutions (Roman Catholic + Islam = 2+ billion people) are resisting any reformation of their internal patriarchal structure. This is a very unfortunate situation (I think, God knows better) because it keeps so many people thinking that, if they reject patriarchy, they would go to hell ... or something like that. I refrain from speculating on the motivations for such strategy, but I know it is not for doctrinal reasons, and I know it is not for pastoral reasons either. Something smells fishy ...


I am grateful to all those who took the time to write.

Links to the Archive

The following are links to previous issues of the newsletter:

V1 N1 May 2005

  • Cross-Gender Solidarity

V1 N2 June 2005

  • The Phallocentric Syndrome

V1 N3 July 2005

  • From Patriarchy to Solidarity

V1 N4 August 2005

  • Synthesis of Patriarchy and Solidarity

V1 N5 September 2005

  • From Solidarity to Sustainability

V1 N6 October 2005

  • Dimensions of Sustainability

V1 N7 November 2005

  • Analysis and Synthesis of Objective Evidence


The United Nations

The United Nations Organization has an extensive network of websites, some of them including global databases. Some of the most useful are listed below. For an index of all the UN websites, go to the UN Website Locator.

UN Main Portal
UN CyberSchoolBus
UN Development Program
UN Environmental Program
UN Millennium Goals
UN Millennium Campaign
UN Millennium Project
UN Statistical Division
UN University
UN University for Peace
UN WomenWatch
Reform the UN



African Union
Club of Amsterdam
Club of Rome
Earth Global Community
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Future Brief
Global Community Foundation
Global Scenario Group
Global Trade Watch
Int'l Biodiversity Program
Int'l Data Base
Int'l Human Dimensions Programme
Int'l Monetary Fund
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New Resources

Recently published:

OECD Factbook 2005: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics. Includes statistics on the following subjects: Demographic trends -- Trade -- Employment -- Air, water and land -- Government deficits and debt -- Taxes -- Regional disparities -- World energy supply -- Gross domestic product (GDP) -- Productivity -- Commodities: production and supply -- Consumer and producer prices -- Purchasing power and competitiveness -- Research and development (R&D) -- Information and communication technology (ICT) -- Expenditure on education -- Health -- Work and leisure -- Crime -- Transport.


Renewables 2005: Global Status Report, Eric Martinot, Worldwatch Institute for the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (PDF Download), November 2005. "This report provides statistical information on the status of renewable energy technology. The report finds that technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and small hydro now provide 160 gigawatts of electricity generating capacity, about 4 percent of the world total. A good source of information for those investing in the renewable energy sector."


The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom, Phyllis Chesler, Palgrave Macmillan, November 2005, 256 pages. For a good commentary, see For a Feminist Foreign Policy, Alyssa A. Lappen,, 22 November 2005.


2005 State of the Future Report, Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, Millennium Project, American Council for the United Nations University, November 2005. The executive summary is a free download. Excerpt: "The world has grown to 6.5 billion people, the annual economy is approaching $60 trillion, and the Internet is connecting 1 billion people. [...] This year's annual military expenditures will reach $1 trillion, and annual income for organized crime has passed $2 trillion. Yet the world has not dedicated the resources needed to stop water tables from falling, to narrow the rich-poor gap, or to provide safe and abundant energy."


Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life, Edited by Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert T. Boyd and Ernst Fehr, MIT Press, July 2005. "Multidisciplinary research into cooperation and the implications for public policy, drawing on insights from economics, anthropology, biology, social psychology, and sociology."


The State and the Global Ecological Crisis, Edited by John Barry and Robyn Eckersley, MIT Press, June 2005. "Explores the prospects for reinstating the state as the facilitator of environmental protection, through analyses and case studies of the green democratic potential of the state and the state system."


Global partnerships - the way forward, United Nations and the Findhorn Foundation, 2005.


Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute, forthcoming January 2006. Chapter 1 is a free download.

Recent Headlines

Standing Alone in Mecca, Asra Q. Nomani, Harper, San Francisco, 2005. See also A Gender Jihad For Islam's Future, Asra Q. Nomani, Washington Post, November 6, 2005, page B2.


Free And Equal Under The Qur'an. Havva G. Guney-Ruebenacker, alt.muslim, 7 November 2005. "Only with non-apologetic, rational and principled reformist Islamic thought is it possible to deduce egalitarian and realistic Qur'anic interpretations."


Islamic states called for end to female genital mutilation, Asian Tribune, 10 November 2005. "Ministers of nearly 51 Islamic countries and more than 20 Arab and Islamic organizations have called for an end to harmful traditional practices including child marriage, female genital mutilation, and gender discrimination in education.


Blazing a trail for Africa's women, Lucy Fleming, BBC News, 11 November 2005. "African women are celebrating, as Liberia's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf looks set to become the continent's first elected woman president ... Mrs. Sirleaf says she wants "to bring motherly sensitivity and emotion to the presidency" as a way of healing the wounds of war. ... The 67-year-old grandmother said she hoped her win would "raise the participation of women not just in Liberia but also in Africa".


More Internet, Less Poverty?, Marty Logan, IPS, 17 November 2005. "ICTs are essentially tools that can be used to increase the competitiveness of an economy and the productivity of enterprises," added the professor from the University of Manchester. The problem with addressing the digital divide is there's this sort of obsession with trying to create a level playing field, trying to be inclusive and really attacking a problem that is too big for ICTs to solve. The problems of poverty, the problems of rural deprivation are really nothing to do with ICTs; they're to do with a whole range of other issues, such as water, sanitation and health," added [British Researcher Richard] Duncombe."


WSIS Ends on Mixed Note, Hilmi Toros, TerraViva Online, 18 November 2005. "The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) concluded Friday night with claims of success by the United Nations, governments and the private sector, but civil society refused to wholeheartedly embrace its outcome."


Greenpeace launches most ambitious ship expedition ever undertaken, ISNET, 18 November 2005. "We are facing a growing wave of ocean extinction; our seas have reached a tipping point, with scores of species, fish, birds and mammals edging toward extinction. In response, Greenpeace is launching its most ambitious ship expedition ever to defend our oceans and to call for a vast network of marine reserves that are needed to protect and restore the health of the planets oceans."

Chile's Michelle Bachelet Poised for Presidency, Jonathan Franklin, WeNews, 20 November 2005. "After surviving torture under Chile's Pinochet regime, Michelle Bachelet has been helping the country reconcile its troubled history. Now she is the frontrunner for the Dec. 11 presidential election."


Chancellor Angela Merkel, International Herald Tribune, 20 November 2005. "One trait Angela Merkel shares with her political godfather, Helmut Kohl, is that she is commonly underestimated. Affable, professorial and not particularly charismatic, the pastor's daughter from East Germany is no Teutonic Margaret Thatcher. But the simple fact that Merkel, who will be elected by the Parliament on Tuesday, managed to come this far in a mere 15 years, a woman from the East without a constituency of her own competing against men reared in the clubby world of West German politics, should be a warning against underestimating her."


Peace, Democracy and Solidarity, Taranath Ranabhat, Peace Journalism, Issue 13 - November, 2005. Excerpts of the statement by Speaker Taranath Ranabhat at the 6th General Assembly of the AAPP [Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace], Pattaya City, Thailand on November 19. "I believe that it is only through mutual understanding and reconciliation among diverse thoughts and ideologies that peace, harmony and democracy can get a boost. Peace, harmony and democracy cannot be the agenda of a single nation. It is the common agenda of the entire world community. Setting the common interests and goals at global and regional parliamentary forums like this can cement the common bond and promote mutual solidarity."


Let's say NO to the violence against women, Radio Cadena Agramonte, Camaguey, Cuba, 25 November 2005.


Fighting Violence Against Women, DW-World, Deutsche Welle, Germany, 25 November 2005.


Iran-Women: Islamic fundamentalism will be defeated by struggle of women, Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, NCRI, 26 November 2005.

Click on the picture for a glimpse
at the life of Maryam Rajavi


The World Is Tilted: The popular idea that America is one step smarter and more sophisticated than its rivals is a dangerous myth, and a threat to the global economy., Clyde Prestowitz, Newsweek, Issues 2006. "For most of the last 50 years, globalization has been a win-win proposition, making America richer while lifting hundreds of millions in the developing world out of poverty and despair. Recently, however, it has begun to operate differently, undermining U.S. welfare while creating imbalances likely to end in a global economic crisis."


Speak out against gender violence, East African churches urged, Ecumenical News International, Nairobi, 28 November 2005. "Churches in East Africa are being urged to speak out against violence against women and children, as momentum gains in a global campaign against gender-based violence. "As churches we have to speak out and make sure this does not continue," said the Rev. Fred Nyabera, executive director of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes Region and Horn of Africa. "We also need to hold offenders accountable."


Dalai Lama Gets Meditation Lesson, Dan Orzech, Wired News, 30 November 2005.


For more news about solidarity, sustainability, and other issues
of global stewardship, go to
collected webfeeds.

Fundamental Reminders

United Nations
Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs)

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

4. Reduce child mortality

5. Improve maternal health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

8. Develop a global partnership for development




Global Dialogue 2006 begins January 1st, 2006, on the Internet, and end August 31st. Roundtable Discussions begin on the Internet today, now. Participate now. No need to wait until August 2006 to dialogue. You can organize your own Discussion Roundtable.

Latest newsletter: Global Dialogue 2006: Politics and Justice without borders, Global Community Earth Government Newsletter, Volume 3, Issue 8, November 2005. Theme: "Direct democracy" is a community right on the Scale of Human and Earth Rights.

For more information,
click here.

and other
Symposium on Educating Global Citizens, Mount Mary College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 31 March 2006. Proposals are due 18 November 2005. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by 6 January 2006. Please send proposals to: Diana Bartels,, or Kristi Siegel, For more information, visit Mount Mary's 2006 Symposium.


The Role of Religion in the Longer- Range Future. The Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future is in the preliminary planning stages for its tenth bi-annual workshop/conference, to be held at Boston University. Participants will consider "the role of religion in the longer-range future." Possible co-sponsors and collaborators include the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, Boston University's Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs, The School of Theology, and the College of Arts and Sciences/Religion. Tentative dates: March or April 2006. For updated information contact The Pardee Center at or call 617-358-4000.


2006 International Symposium on Technology and Society. Theme: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery. June 8-10, 2006. Queens College, City University of New York New York City, NY. Sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology. Abstracts are due December 1, 2005. For further information visit IEEESSIT. Point of contact: Adam Henne, University of Georgia,


The Research Committee on Society and Environment of the International Sociological Association (ISA) is organizing 15 sessions at the ISA 16th World Congress of Sociology, to be held in Durban, South Africa, July 23-29, 2006. To present a paper in one of the sessions, please submit an abstract before October 31, 2005. For more information visit the ISA World Congress.


ICOHTEC 2006. The International Committee for the History of Technology's 33rd Symposium in Leicester, U.K., 15 - 20 August 2006. Theme: Transforming Economies and Civilizations: The Role of Technology. The ICOHTEC welcomes proposals for individual papers and sessions. Deadline for proposals is 1 February 2006. Please send all proposals to James Williams, Program Committee Chair at For more details, visit the ICOHTECH.


The online journal Invisible Culture is seeking papers for an upcoming issue on the theme of The Symptom. The deadline for receipt of submissions of 2,500 to 6,000 words in length is February 1, 2006. Please email inquiries to Michael Williams, or Linda Edwards,


The 14th international conference of the Society of Human Ecology (SHE) will take place 18-21 October 2006 at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. SHE welcomes proposals not only for sessions but for multi-session symposia, as well as submissions of individual papers. Contact the Conference Committee, SHE XIV,

Recommended Film

2004 (c) coop99

From the film flyer:

"Darwin's Nightmare is a tale about humans between the North and the South, about globalization, and about fish.

"Some time in the 1960's, in the heart of Africa, a new animal was introduced into Lake Victoria as a little scientific experiment. The Nile Perch, a voracious predator, extinguished almost the entire stock of the native fish species. However, the new fish multiplied so fast, that its white fillets are today exported all around the world.

"Huge hulking ex-Soviet cargo planes come daily to collect the latest catch in exchange for their southbound cargo… Kalashnikovs and ammunitions for the uncounted wars in the dark center of the continent.

"This booming multinational industry of fish and weapons has created an ungodly globalized alliance on the shores of the world’s biggest tropical lake: an army of local fishermen, World bank agents, homeless children, African ministers, EU-commissioners, Tanzanian prostitutes, and Russian pilots."

For more information,
click here.

Women Priests
in the
Catholic Tradition

"Catholic woman,
is Christ calling you
to the priesthood?"

If Christ is calling, and you want
your vocation to be tested,
contact us
and we shall refer you
to a bishop in the Catholic Tradition
who ordains women,
albeit not under the jurisdiction
of the Vatican.


Critically examine everything.
Hold on to the good.

Saint Paul,
1 Thessalonians 5:21


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